1. Introduction

In this article, Google Ads vs SEO, which is better? I discuss the pros and cons of each option. Both SEO and Google Ads have their advantages and disadvantages.

So you have just finished your beautiful new website, and you are really happy with it. It loads super quickly and has a beautiful colour scheme, you’ve shown it to some of your potential customers, friends, and family and everyone agrees. It’s fantastic.

But here is the thing. What is the point of having a beautiful, well-designed website that looks great on both mobile, tablet, and desktop computers if you don’t receive any visitors?

This is where SEO and PPC (Pay Per Click) Marketing come into play.

Google Ads vs SEO for your new website

2. What is SEO

SEO is the art/science of positioning a website on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and Yandex (currently the most important search engines). Of course, the higher up you are positioned, then the more traffic you will receive, so if you sell red and gold widgets and someone types into Google “red and gold widgets” and you are Nº1 on the first page of Google, then as long as there are a lot of people searching for “red and gold widgets” then you will receive a lot of traffic.

Google Search Results SEO

As we can see when you search for “google ads” in Google, obviously, the first result is for Google Ads, however as we shall see later, using PPC marketing you can position your Ad above the natural search results in Google.

3. What are the Advantages of SEO

The biggest advantage of good SEO is that, once you are well positioned and as long as you continue to keep up your efforts, then you will receive a steady stream of FREE traffic to your site and therefore, as long as you have a well-designed website, then, in theory, a steady stream of customers.

4. What are the disadvantages of SEO (Google Ads vs SEO)

The biggest advantage of good SEO is that, once you are well positioned and as long as you continue to keep up your efforts, then you will receive a steady stream of FREE traffic to your site and therefore, as long as you have a well-designed website, then, in theory, a steady stream of customers.


Probably the biggest challenge is that if you are a new website and there is a lot of competition, then it will take you quite a long time and a lot of effort to position your website on the first page, SEO depends on many factors outside your control such as the number and quality of websites which link to your site.

Imagine that Amazon also sells “red and gold widgets”, as you can probably imagine, they have millions of external links pointing to their site as well as an SEO team with unlimited resources.


So you have managed to position your site for “red and gold widgets” but what if half of the people are searching for “gold and red widgets”? Surely the same thing, right? Well, No.

As I mentioned before, Google takes into account many factors and maybe there is another site that is specifically targeting the keyword “gold and red widgets” while you are targeting “red and gold widgets”. It is often very difficult to effectively position a website or a specific web page for different keywords.


SEO takes a lot of time and effort, you need to build backlinks and create amazing content, so it could take up to six months to see any real traffic from your SEO campaign.


Technical SEO refers to elements of your page behind the scenes, such as page speed (Test yours here with Lighthouse or GTMetrix).

It involves how your page is built, server response times, and much, much more. If you are not very technical, then you will probably need to hire an expert or spend quite a lot of time learning how to do it yourself

WARNING: When you start changing code or using advanced compression techniques, it is quite easy to break your site, so always make a backup before you start

5. What is Google Ads

Google is an incredible platform that reaches 90% of online customers (Source: www.webfx.com). With Google Ads you can reach local customers, national customers and even international customers. 

You can reach your potential customers accross the Google search network and the Google Display network (Source)


Google Search Results Pages (SERPS)

Google Maps

Google Shopping

Google Search Partner Sites





Thousands of partner websites via Google Adsense

Google Ads is the advertising platform offered by Google. Ads can appear when you search on google.com on the SERPS (Search Engine Results Page). These are normally the first four results at the top of the page and have a small AD logo next to them.

Google Ads in search results

They can also be the four last entries at the bottom of the search results page, just above the next page buttons.

Simply put, when you advertise on Google you give them a set of criteria:

  1. The keywords you want to trigger your Ad. (E.g “lawyer london” capitals don’t matter)
  2. An advert which consists of 3 headlines and 2 description texts
  3. A destination page where you want the user to go when they click on the Ad


There are of course many other settings that you can use for choosing the type of people who you want to see your Ad, for example, men aged between 20 and 50 who are interested in sports cars (if you are selling sports cars)


Have you ever been browsing a web page and seen an advert that looks like a Google Ad? Well, then this is probably someone using the display network. The Display Network is great for building brand awareness and catching people who are just browsing. The “That look’s interesting crowd”

With the display network, you don’t use keywords, you are targeting your audience by telling Google which types of people you want to target, for example, their interests or the types of websites that they usually visit.

You provide Google with:

  1. The Ad
  2. Your targeting options 


There are many targeting options you can choose and combine. As the display network is best for creating brand awareness, make sure that you set realistic goals for this type of advertising (i.e. Goal: Brand awareness, you are not likely to get as many conversions with the display network as with the search network)

The Google shopping network, as the name suggests, is a great place for online retailers to sell their products. You can upload your inventory to the Google marketplace and then run online ads in order to get more visitors to your website.

Your Ads will appear on the SERPS of Google search and Google search partners (if option enabled)

Find out more about Google Shopping Ads

YouTube Ads appear on YouTube when people are searching for products or services related to what you are offering. There are many different types of YouTube Ads (Skippable Ads, Non-Skippable Ads, Trueview Ads, Masthead Ads, and many more). 

The advantage of using video ads is that if you have a high-quality, engaging video ad, then you can use YouTube to reach millions of potential customers. You can use many settings to target your audience, keywords, demographics, interests, etc.

Google Ads is an amazing and quite complex platform that allows you to design highly effective ads and target them to the right people at exactly the moment they are searching for your product or service.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive breakdown of Google Ads, just a way to give you an idea of the reach that Google has.

6. Advantages of Google Ads


With good keyword research, a compelling Ad, and an effective landing page, you can have an advertising campaign up and running in a matter of hours and getting quality traffic to your website.


When comparing Google Ads vs SEO, one of the most important things to recognize is keywords. With Google Ads, YOU CHOOSE the keywords that you want to trigger your Ad. With SEO this depends on the Google algorithm, so, for example, you can choose many synonyms of the same word with Google Ads, but with SEO your site may only show up in the SERPS for one or two of those keywords.


You can use Google Ads for every part of your campaign. Do you need to make people aware of your product? Use the Google Display Network or YouTube videos.

Do you want to target people who are actively searching for your product or service? Then, you can use Google search or shopping networks

Fin new markets

By running a broad Google Search campaign, you can find out which keywords people are using to find your products and services.

Google gives you a list of search terms that have triggered your ads, and very often you can discover other related products or services that you might not have thought of.

You can also use Google Ads for international marketing, offering your products / services around the world if applicable.


You can be very specific and target only selected people, so for example if you were an estate agent, and you wanted to attract new sellers, then you could target people who were actively interested and had been researching property and use keywords like “sell my house online” or “best estate agent near me”

Measure your goals

Every time you make a sale or every time a visitor fills in a contact form, this counts as a conversion. This makes it very easy to see exactly how much you are spending to get new customers.

For example, if in 1 month you spent €500 and you received 50 contacts from your form, then the cost per contact would be €10. If you then sold your service for €100 per month to only half of your contacts (25) then you would have received €2500. Minus the cost of Google Ads, that is €2000.

You can then decide if this is profitable for you, and then increase or decrease your advertising budget accordingly.

Cost control

The minimum daily spend is €1 / $1 per day, the reality is that with such a low budget, you are unlikely to be really successful, but the point is that you tell Google how much you wish to spend on a daily basis and then Google will only spend that amount per month. (N.B For Google 1 month is 30.4 days, so you need to multiply your daily budget by 30.4 to find out how much your monthly bill will be).

In certain countries, such as Spain , there is an additional tax to pay on top of your monthly bill (which as of writing is 2%). This changes per country.

6. What are the disadvantages of Google Ads?

When trying to make a decision between which is better, Google Ads vs SEO, it is important to point out that both have advantages and disadvantages, so with Google Ads, here are some things to watch out for.

Basically a well-managed campaign can be very successful, so these disadvantages are very relevant when you don’t know what you are doing.

You have to pay for every click

Google Ads is based on a bidding system, every time a user types in your keyword into Google, you enter a bid, remember there are only 4 Ad placement spaces at the top of the page and everybody wants to be number 1.

On high-priced or highly competitive products, bidding can be high, and you may be a little scared at having to pay €1 per click or more (there are industries in Spain where the maximum bid is €20 per click and higher). The CPC can be even higher in other markets, such as the US or UK.

You also need to remember when comparing Google Ads vs SEO, every time somebody clicks on one of your ads, you pay for that click whereas if you have positioned your page naturally with SEO, you don’t pay.


Remember that you can set your daily budget, costs can spiral if you start to try and outbid your competitor by simply raising your budget. You need to make sure that your campaign is profitable before you start opening the tap. A Google Ads specialist can help you determine what your likely budget would be for an effective campaign.

Keyword Research

You need to spend time and effort on your keyword research, you need to choose the right keywords and also the right negative keywords. Google wants to show your Ad as often as possible (which is good) but you don’t want your Ad shown for searches that are irrelevant.

Often when comparing Google ads vs SEO you find that actually there are more keywords that you don’t want your ads to show for than one you do.

Setting up and managing a campaign can be daunting

Setting up a Google Ads campaign is relatively simple., in fact, Google does everything possible to make the process as painless as they can.

Behind the simple, basic interface that many users only see lies a very sophisticated platform that allows you many types of bidding strategies, audience match strategies, you can add scripts to control your ads, advanced reporting, and much, much more. 

7. CONCLUSION: Google Ads vs SEO, which is better?

This question of which is better Google Ads or SEO has many people in both camps. SEO experts claim that they can position you at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages and you will have unlimited free traffic.

The big questions here are how many keywords can you position on the first page, how long will it take, and how difficult will it be? Remember that your competitors are probably trying to do the same thing.


If you run a legal firm specializing in personal injury and divorce. Will you be able to position yourself for both these keywords against that mega-firm in town that only do divorce and the other mega-firm that only does personal injury?

The Google algorithm is constantly changing, and you may be number one today but after a major algorithm update, you may drop to the second or third page, and then you have to analyze what went wrong and start correcting it.

Did you over-optimize your site? Do you have too many bad backlinks from disreputable sights? It may not be your fault but many a business has had a very nasty shock after a Google algorithm update.

(Here are some sites that won and lost in a July 2021 Google update Source:https://www.amsivedigital.com/insights/seo/google-july-2021-core-update-winners-losers-analysis/)

Another thing worth mentioning is that Google is a massive business, they want people to click on paid links, so currently as we move forwards, informational sites like Wikipedia will gain more of the top spots, and commercial sites will start to drop down. In the July 12, 2021, Google update, amazon.co.uk lost a massive 69.62% of visibility)

Although Google Ads can be expensive, you have less risk as you can occupy one of the top four positions, you can try out different keywords, adverts, and landing pages to find the ones that work. Imagine that you spend months optimizing for a keyword with a specific page only to find out that there is a much better keyword, and then you have to start again from the beginning (or nearly the beginning).

Google Offices

From my point of view, when answering the question of Google Ads vs SEO. the answer really lies is in using both Google Ads and SEO together.

I usually like to use Google Ads to test keywords and landing pages and then when I find out what works I optimize a site or a page around that keyword. I still use Google Ads because I want to make sure that I have more than 1 shot at getting the click. If I occupy one of the 4 top positions on Google Ads, and  I am also at the top of the natural search results page, then I have a lot more opportunities to get the visitor.